“Bring the whole world, all the human values which attract you so very strongly — friendship, the arts, science, philosophy, theology, sports, nature, culture, souls — bring all of this within that hope: the hope of Christ!” – St. Jose Maria Escriva
A few weeks ago I was at the Boys’ Leadership Camp held in the diocese of Lincoln. I must admit that I am not much of a camper - this camp was held at a camp ground owned by the diocese with the usual cabins, big open fields, hiking trials, and much more. Some other seminarians and I were there to be a spiritual presence and a support to the staff and campers. It was an incredible week and the focus of the camp inspired me and that is what I would like to reflect upon this week.
Going into camp week I didn’t really know what to expect. I figured it would be a very spirit filled week with Mass, adoration, confession, and time to pray, but beyond any of that, I didn’t know how the camp organizers were going to keep 50 boys interested for a whole seven days. It wasn’t until the afternoon on the first day when I was asked a pointed question while I was preparing to play dodge ball with the others kids. A young camper asked, “We can play dodge ball at a Catholic camp? I didn’t know we could do that!!” The priest who was with us exclaimed right back as he threw a dodge ball the kids way, “That is the point! We can do regular everyday things and love Jesus doing them! That is what it means to be Catholic!” It all made sense! That is what the camp was about. At that moment, I could not have been more excited to be there or to help these kids realize that their life can be full of sports, mud, water fights, and so much more, and still have Jesus at the center.
So many times people think of Catholic schools, camps, or programs and think that it is going to be times filled with intense prayer, crazy penance, and NO FUN! You are smiling right now because we all know that it is true. My friends, being Catholic is not running from the world, but living in it, and bringing Christ to it. To play sports, be on the stage, play the instruments, be in the bands, paint the paintings, write the stories, imaging the things that have not yet be imagined, and do it all for Jesus and with Jesus. That is what it means to be Catholic! This might be news to you, but the Church was not created 2000 years ago to be apart from the world, but it was created to be part of it – and to be redeemed through Jesus and the gospel.
Deep in our hearts we all want to be great, we all want to be saints, but so many of us get discouraged because it doesn’t seem possible. Here is the great news! St. Jose Maria Escriva, a Saint of our time and founder of Opus Dei, proclaimed to the whole world that we all can be saints. He used to proclaim to big crowds, “You can be a saint in this time and place!” And the way he taught that was to be in the world, and to bring Jesus into everything that you do. He made sainthood a reality to thousands of people only if we would all strive to sanctify our work, recreation, family life, and all that we do and do it all for the love of Jesus and the Church. We can be saints! Do you truly believe it?
As I have said before, that Church is not a fun hater. God and the Church do not want us to be a part from the world, but to embrace it, living for the truth of Jesus and the gospel. And that my friends is great news…
By the way, I had fun praising the Lord beating everyone at dodge ball…
Praise the Lord in your everyday life this week! God Bless You,